The Széchenyi István Society is a not-for-profit organization founded on April 29, 1958. At its foundation the purpose of the organization was to support Hungarian immigrants arriving in the United States right after the revolution, by providing them tools to succeed and integrate into the workforce and society. Since 2009, the organization has aimed to align its goals with today’s realities, bridging the gap between the existing Hungarian communities of New York and the newcomers.
We put great emphasis on preserving our cultural values and traditions through presentations, lectures and other cultural events for Hungarian communities in the Tristate Area. The Széchenyi Society also strives to support charitable organizations in the Motherland.
Following the work of István Széchenyi, the “greatest Hungarian,” our organization serves Hungarians in the United States, tailoring our work to the local needs. The first presidents of the Széchenyi Society were László Majthényi, Károly Széchenyi, Elemér Balogh, Ferenc Chorin, Tibor Jahoda and András Kováts. Mr. Róbert Harkay served our Society as president for many years, followed by László Széchenyi and László Bihary, who are members of the Society to this day.The Széchenyi Society is one of the three owners of the Hungarian House in New York City.
In 1991, we celebrated the 200th anniversary of Széchenyi’s birth, coordinating our New York event with those happening in Hungary – as we did in 2010, for the 150th anniversary of his death. Kinga Széchenyi, a descendant of a branch the Széchenyi family, gave a historical retrospective on the forced relocations of the 1950s in Hungary.
Our Society regularly invites speakers from Hungary, allowing a wide audience to hear from figures such as Dr. Lajos Papp, world-renowned heart surgeon.
Another well-known guest was Mihály Takaró, professor of literature, who lectured on some of the suppressed and silenced Hungarian authors of the 20th century: Albert Wass, József Nyírő, Jenő Dsida, Cécile Tormay and Dezső Szabó.
Dr. Gábor Magyar lectured on the breeding and protection of native, endangered Hungarian animal breeds. Among other lecturers were Gábor Géczy, founder of the “MAGfalva” movement; Lajos Szántai, art historian; István Gergely – Tiszti – leader of the Rosy Csik foundation in Csíksomlyó.(www.csibesz.ro).
For many years, the Society has organized celebrations for Hungarian national holidays, such as commemorating the 1956 Revolution on October 23, or the Day of National Unity on June 4. We also participate in the annual Albert Wass literary day. We hosted the first Hungarian-Polish Friendship Day in North America.
Fulfilling one of our main principles, we regularly organize collections of clothes and toys for the needy. Three times a year, we send shipments to the Carpathian basin for children in need. We also support them through regular, considerable financial donations.
At the Hungarian Tricolor Gala in 2012, one of our directors announced his intention to create the Day of the Hungarian Flag. On December 16, 2014, the Parliamant declared March 16 the day of the Hungarian Flag and crests. The Széchenyi Society proposes to celebrate this feast day among Hungarian Americans.
According to our latest plans, we are in the midst of establishing a working relationship with the Széchenyi Society in Hungary, whose website has the following comment: „Mr. Ákos Felsővályi, President of the Széchenyi Society in New York, contacted Mr. András Rubovszky, Secretary General of the Széchenyi Society in Budapest, and informed him of the plan to translate one of the main works of Széchenyi István, Hitel (Credit), into English, through the financial support of the New York Society. Our Secretary General was happy to receive this information and expressed hope that the joint effort will bear fruit, and stated that there will be other collaborations in the future, especially considering that the year 2016 will be a special year of Széchenyi commemoration.”
Following our original objectives, we gather the newly-arrived younger generation of immigrants into the MAG Community, which is a circle of friends who gather every Thursday at 6 PM in our hall at the Hungarian House. The objective is to heal the Earth and humanity. We aim to live community life at a higher level, to re-learn our organic culture, to celebrate traditional feasts throughout the year. We propose not only to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors but to become consciously aware of universal information encoded in our traditions that serve as guidelines for each one of us for our lives. (Please see the article published in the Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet on June 2, 2013, entitled “Home-made bread – sometimes you have to travel far in order to find yourself).
We welcome everybody who is committed to their Hungarian traditions to become a member.
Please send an email to our President, Mr. Ákos Felsővályi (email@example.com), including a cover letter and a CV.
Further information: www.szit.info